1.19.2014

my 3-season multi-day gear list


big 3: pack / shelter / sleep system
ula circuit backpack w/o options
34.0 oz
litetrail nylobarrier pack liner
1.1 oz
six moon designs wild oasis tarp
13.0 oz
2 mil plastic ground cloth cut to shape
3.3 oz
1 rei snow stake (also used as trowel)
1.0 oz
5 j-stakes
2.0 oz
stake sack
0.2 oz
golite 3-season quilt w/o sack or straps
24.0 oz
ridgerest sleeping pad 48"
9.0 oz
stuff sack to make pillow with clothes
0.6 oz

88.2 oz / 5.5 lb


clothing packed
mountain hardware windstopper hat
1.6 oz
mountain hardware polartec glove liners
1.7 oz
1 pair darn tough 1/4 cushion socks (lg)
2.2 oz
polarmax techsilk baselayer top (lg)
4.3 oz
polarmax techsilk baselayer bottom (lg)
4.2 oz
rei revelcloud vest (lg)
8.6 oz
frogg toggs ultralite2 rain jacket (md)
5.5 oz

28.1 oz / 1.8 lb


gear for food / water / fuel
13L sea-to-summit ultra sil sack for food
1.4 oz
litetrail nylobarrier odor-proof bag
0.4 oz
40' litetrail h-line and minibiner
1.0 oz
fancy feast cat food can stove
0.2 oz
aluminum foil stove base plate
0.1 oz
aluminum foil pot lid
0.1 oz
gsi 0.6 liter pot
3.4 oz
litetrail titanium foil windscreen
0.2 oz
snow peak titanium short spork
0.5 oz
packtowel nano small
0.6 oz
mini bic lighter
0.3 oz
sawyer mini water filter
1.3 oz
plastic water scoop cup
0.2 oz
1 platypus 2L bottle
1.2 oz
1 smartwater 1L bottle
1.3 oz
1 gatorade 12oz bottle for fuel
            0.9 oz

13.1 oz / 0.8 lb


first aid / hygiene / miscellaneous
fak: bandaids, gauze, first aid tape, antiseptic wipes, ibuprofen, imodium, mirror, and sew kit all in ziploc

3.0 oz
plastic mesh produce sack
0.1 oz
cut toothbrush
0.3 oz
floss
0.1 oz
toothpaste
1.0 oz
toilet paper
2.0 oz
hand sanitizer
1.0 oz
sunscreen
2.0 oz
lip balm
0.3 oz
petzl tikka 2 plus head lamp
2.8 oz
smartphone
5.1 oz
ziploc and microfiber cloth "phone case"
0.5 oz

18.2 oz / 1.1 lb


TOTAL BASE WEIGHT: 147.6 oz / 9.2 lb.

What I carry in my pants pockets: sunglasses (0.8 oz), bandana (1.2 oz), victorinox classic knife (0.7), spyderco ladybug knife (0.5 oz), mini bic lighter (0.3 oz), compass (0.9 oz), ziploc wallet and contents (1 oz), pencil and map (1 oz), and mosquito head net if needed (0.5 oz). Total: 6.9 oz / 0.4 lb.

If heavy rain is expected, I add my golite poncho tarp (7.5 oz) and plastic gas pump mitts (0.1 oz). This brings my base weight up 7.6 oz to 155.2 oz / 9.7 lb.

If cold temperatures (approaching or below freezing) are expected, I replace the rei revelcloud vest with a golite bitterroot down jacket (14.2 oz), replace the mountain hardware windstopper hat with a fleece balaclava (2.2 oz), and add a silk sleeping bag liner (5.1 oz). This brings my base weight up 11.3 oz to 158.9 oz / 9.9 lb.

1.18.2014

Alcohol Stove Windscreens: Vargo Aluminum vs. LiteTrail Titanium Foil

For the PCT, I made three little pieces of gear out of aluminum foil: a pot lid, a base plate for my Fancy Feast cat food can stove, and a windscreen. I still like aluminum foil for my pot lid and base plate, but the windscreen left me wanting something more durable and sturdy for future hikes.

I have made windscreens out of disposable aluminum sheet pans and have considered the soft aluminum windscreens offered by MSR and other companies, but those didn't seem much of a step up from aluminum foil. I want to really step it up or just stick with aluminum foil.

To that end, I wound up buying two fancy windscreens: the Vargo Aluminum and the LiteTrail Titanium Foil. This initial review will determine which one I bring with me on the AZT for long-term testing.


OUT OF THE BOX

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Vargo and LiteTrail windscreens flat

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Vargo and LiteTrail windscreens standing
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LiteTrail inside Vargo for diameter comparison






































The Vargo windscreen is made of five aluminum plates connected with four hinges. This structure allows for a variety of configurations. Each plate is rigid and has a cutout on the bottom to allow air flow. There's an equivalent cutout on top in case you want to lay tent stakes across it and use the windscreen as a light pot stand.

The LiteTrail windscreen is a single strip of titanium foil. Titanium foil is springy and has a tendency to flatten out rather than keep a curve. LiteTrail has crimped both ends of the screen to form interlocking tabs that keep the windscreen locked in a complete circle. There is a row of ten holes along half of the windscreen to allow air flow. The other half is solid to block the brunt of the wind. LiteTrail sells this screen with or without a pot handle cutout. I bought the one without the cutout.

Here's a table comparing some specs.


Vargo
Windscreen
LiteTrail Windscreen
Price
$14.95
$15.95
Listed Weight
1.3 oz
0.23 oz
Weight on My Scale
1.3 oz
0.2 oz
Materials
aluminum
titanium foil
Construction
folds flat
rolls up
Length x Height
16.4" x 3.2"
14" x 2.76"
Diameter Set Up
a pentagon, so 4.5" plus corners

4.45"


Both windscreens easily fit inside my 0.6L GSI Minimalist pot along with other items.

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Vargo windscreen packed inside my 0.6L pot

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LiteTrail windscreen packed inside my 0.6L pot


























Both windscreens fit well around my Fancy Feast stove and 0.6L GSI pot.

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Vargo windscreen around my Fancy Feast stove
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LiteTrail windscreen around my Fancy Feast stove
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Vargo windscreen around my 0.6L pot and stove
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LiteTrail windscreen around my 0.6L pot and stove


















































IN THE FIELD

I used both windscreens and timed how long it took to boil 0.5L of water in my GSI pot using my Fancy Feast stove with Heet fuel. I also timed how quickly each screen cooled after the boil. I ran this test twice, both times on slightly breezy days.

The average boil time using the Vargo windscreen was 9.25 minutes. The average boil time with the LiteTrail windscreen was 8.75 minutes. The LiteTrail was half a minute quicker, but that doesn't mean much considering that this is an average of just two boil times. The LiteTrail does feel like it cools off more quickly than the Vargo after use. The average cooling time for LiteTrail was 11 seconds compared to 36 seconds for Vargo.

I prefer the venting design of the LiteTrail. It's useful to have a solid half of the circumference to turn into the wind while having holes in the other half to provide air flow to the stove. Vargo's cutouts on the bottom of each aluminum plate allowed air flow, but always from all sides. That occasionally let the wind toss the flame around.

The LiteTrail titanium quivers in the wind a bit but holds its ground. I think the tension created by locking the springy titanium foil into a circle makes it much more stable than my softer aluminum foil screen. I imagine that a strong wind might blow the titanium foil windscreen against your pot, but it would stay hooked together in a circle and you could easily tap it back into place. The Vargo didn't budge. I'm not sure if this is mainly because of its weight or its angular design.


CONCLUSION

Cost: I think the only windscreen that's cheaper than an aluminum foil windscreen is a stolen windscreen. But like I said, I want to try something more stable and durable than aluminum foil.  There's only a dollar difference between the Vargo and LiteTrail prices. Winner: Draw.

Weight: The LiteTrail is just as light but more stable and durable than my 3-ply aluminum foil windscreen. Both weigh 0.2 oz. The Vargo, however, is 6 times as heavy--an ounce heavier--at 1.2 oz. Winner: LiteTrail.

Stability: As described in the last paragraph of the "In the Field" section, the Vargo was sturdier, but the LiteTrail held its ground and is sturdier than aluminum foil. The Vargo windscreen is also sturdy enough to serve as a light pot support according to the Vargo website. It supported my 0.6L pot full of water with no problem. The LiteTrail is not meant to be used as a pot support, and if you fold or crumple titanium foil, it won't regain its shape. Winner: Vargo.

Durability: This category is difficult because I have not used these windscreens enough to evaluate durability. Based on appearances, the Vargo is made of five fairly sturdy aluminum plates, but the hinges connecting them might be its Achilles heel. The LiteTrail's continuous piece of titanium foil is likely to be more durable. I've also heard that titanium is more heat resistant than aluminum, which means it may be less likely to warp over time. Winner: Unknown, but I suspect the LiteTrail will be more durable.

I'm choosing to go with the LiteTrail titanium foil windscreen because it's the same weight as my old aluminum foil windscreen but appears to have the added stability and durability that I want. I also prefer its design to Vargo's.

I'm not totally sold on the LiteTrail windscreen over aluminum foil, but I'll bring it on the AZT to see how it performs long term. It may very well turn out that I come crawling back to aluminum foil, vowing never to be lured away by another windscreen's smooth, curvaceous titanium or flexible hinges again.